US cancels military exercise with Thailand after coup

Last Updated 25 May 2014, 04:50 IST

The US has cancelled an ongoing military exercise with Thailand and scrapped several bilateral engagements while urging restoration of democratic rule in the South Asian country in the wake of a bloodless coup there.

Thailand's army on Thursday seized power in a coup after months of anti-government protests. The military junta yesterday dismissed the country's Senate, detained premier Yingluck Shinawatra and top leaders of the ousted government for up to a week as it intensified its post-coup crackdown.

"While we have enjoyed a long and productive military-to-military relationship with Thailand, our own democratic principles and US law require us to reconsider US military assistance and engagements," Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement yesterday.

Kirby said this as he announced that the Pentagon was cancelling the ongoing Exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014. About 700 US troops were participating in the annual naval exercises, which include sailors, marines, ships and aircraft.

"As we have made clear, it is important that the Royal Thai Armed Forces end this coup and restore to the people of Thailand both the principles and the process of democratic rule, including a clear path forward to elections," he said.

Pentagon also announced to cancel the June visit to Thailand of US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris and cancel the invitation to Royal Thai Armed Forces Commander General Tanasak to visit US Pacific Command in June.

"We will continue to review additional engagements as necessary until such time that events in Thailand no longer demand it," he said.

"We urge the Royal Thai Armed Forces to act in the best interests of their fellow citizens by ending this coup and restoring the rule of law and the freedoms assured those citizens through democratic principles," Kirby said.

The United States has also cancelled a US government- sponsored firearms training programme in Thailand for the Royal Thai Police that had been slated to begin May 26, as well as a US government-sponsored study trip to the United States, scheduled for June, for several senior Royal Thai Police officers that would have included visits to FBI facilities and meetings with US law enforcement counterparts.

"We urge the immediate restoration of civilian rule and release of detained political leaders, a return to democracy through early elections, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms," State Department Deputy Spokesperson, Marie Harf, said in a separate statement. 

(Published 25 May 2014, 04:49 IST)

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